Pennsylvania Agriculture Department Reminds Pesticide Applicators to Use Safe Procedures, Keep Licenses Current

Jun 10, 2010, 11:00 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

HARRISBURG, Pa., June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pesticide applicators and users should make responsible decisions and use pesticides and pest management alternatives in a safe, proper and legal manner, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said today.

"We enjoy an abundant food supply, in part because of the responsible use of pesticides in Pennsylvania," said Redding. "Through the state's licensing and continuing education process, we can ensure those who apply pesticides are using the most up-to-date methods available."

More than 12,000 pesticides are registered for use in Pennsylvania. When used correctly, the products help manage disease-causing organisms, insects, vertebrates and weeds.

The Agriculture department requires applicator licenses for any grower who applies a restricted-use pesticide to raise agronomic crops or for anyone who applies pesticides at schools, daycare facilities, parks, recreation areas and athletic fields, or public swimming pools. Businesses such as lawn care or pest control services apply pesticides must also employ certified applicators and be licensed.

Pennsylvania has approximately 35,000 certified pesticide applicators and thousands of consumer pesticide users. There are three levels of licensed applicators:

  • Private Pesticide Applicator: People growing agronomic crops on land that is owned or rented by the grower or their employer, and are required to take a private examination and obtain update training credits at three-year intervals;
  • Certified Pesticide Applicator: People employed by a pesticide application business must pass two written exams to apply for certification from the department and have 12 months to apply for certification with the department. To maintain certification, applicators must earn six core credits and up to 10 credits in category-specific topics; and
  • Registered Pesticide Technician: People employed by a business must be trained by a certified applicator for 30 days who works for the business and can be onsite within five hours.

The department works with Penn State University's Pesticide Education Program ( to develop and administer the written exams required for certification that cover basic pest management, pesticide safety and information specific to the applicator's area of specialization. Exam locations and the continuing education courses required for recertification are offered around the state and can easily be found at

Commercial applicators' receive renewal applications in the mail on a three-year cycle from the Department of Agriculture in mid-July, and should be returned by Sept. 30. Applicants are reminded to have an up-to-date insurance policy with a pesticide application endorsement. Any outstanding recertification credits must be completed or the application will be returned.

For more detailed information about the department's pesticide program, visit, click on "Plant Industry" under "Bureaus," then "Programs."

"All of us involved in agriculture are committed to protecting Pennsylvania's natural resources and local environments, particularly when dealing with pesticide application and pest management," said Redding. "We want to have a sustainable food system for generations to come, so we must continue to be responsible stewards of the land as we keep Pennsylvania growing."

Redding added that the state offers programs to help protect the state's environment and its residents. The state offers a plastic pesticide container recycling program that helps ensure applicators get the most of their product while avoiding the need to landfill containers that may still contain pesticides.

The Agriculture department also maintains a list of individuals who are hypersensitive to pesticides. The registry is distributed to all commercial and public pesticide businesses four times a year and the businesses are required to notify any person on the most recent list if they will be making an application within 500 feet of a listed location. Anyone may request to have their home, place of employment, school or vacation home placed in the registry.  

For more details about the Hypersensitivity Registry, visit and click on "Programs" and search "Hypersensitivity Registry" or contact Joe Uram at 717-772-5212.

Media contact: Jean Kummer, 717-787-5085

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture